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US Mint unveils Mark Twain Commemorative Coin Designs

December 10, 2015 – The first of several ceremonies to unveil designs for commemorative coins honoring celebrated author Mark Twain took place at the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum in Hannibal, Missouri.

Mark Twain's boyhood home in Hannibal, Missouri. Photograph: Andrew Balet / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/deed.de

Mark Twain's boyhood home in Hannibal, Missouri. Photograph: Andrew Balet / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/deed.de

The event took place two days before the 180th anniversary of his birth, with subsequent celebrations planned for the Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford, Connecticut and Elmira College Center for Mark Twain Studies in New York.

Mark Twain aged 72.

Mark Twain aged 72.

The coins’ designs are emblematic of Twain’s life and legacy:

The gold coin’s obverse design features a portrait of Mark Twain with the inscriptions “LIBERTY,” “IN GOD WE TRUST,” and “2016.” The obverse was designed by Artistic Infusion Program (AIP) artist Benjamin Sowards and sculpted by United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Don Everhart.

The gold coin’s reverse design depicts a steamboat on the Mississippi River. Inscriptions are “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,” “$5,” and “E PLURIBUS UNUM.” The reverse was designed by AIP artist Ronald D. Sanders and sculpted by United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Joseph Menna.

The silver coin’s obverse design features a portrait of Mark Twain holding a pipe with the smoke forming a silhouette of Huck Finn and Jim on a raft in the background. Inscriptions are “LIBERTY,” “IN GOD WE TRUST,” and “2016.” The obverse was designed by AIP artist Chris Costello and sculpted by United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Michael Gaudioso.

The silver coin’s reverse design features an assortment of characters leaping to life from Mark Twain’s works: The knight and horse from A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, the frog from The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, and Jim and Huck from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Inscriptions are “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,” “$1,” and “E PLURIBUS UNUM.” The reverse was designed by AIP artist Patricia Lucas-Morris and sculpted by United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Renata Gordon.

Public Law 112-201, the Mark Twain Commemorative Coin Act of 2012, authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to mint and issue not more than 100,000 $5 gold coins and 350,000 $1 silver coins in uncirculated and proof qualities. Surcharges collected from coin sales – $35 for each gold coin and $10 for each silver coin – are authorized to be distributed as follows:

  • One-quarter to the Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford, Conn., to support the continued restoration of the Mark Twain house and grounds and ensure continuing growth and innovation in museum programming to research, promote, and educate the public on the legacy of Mark Twain
  • One-quarter to the University of California, Berkeley, for the benefit of the Mark Twain Project at the Bancroft Library to support programs to study and promote the legacy of Mark Twain 
  • One-quarter to Elmira College in New York for research and education purposes
  • One-quarter to the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum in Hannibal, Mo., to preserve historical sites related to Mark Twain and help support programs to study and promote his legacy.

Additional information will be announced prior to the coins’ release in 2016.

For additional information on the US Mint and other products go to the Mint’s website.

You may watch a full-length biography of Mark Twain on Youtube.

There is also available an entertaining selection of Twain’s “100 Greatest Quotes”.

The complete text of many of his works have been put online at Online Literature.

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